Building on Success LBUSD campus improvements

Wilson High Modernization Blends Old, New

At Woodrow Wilson Classical High School, a renovation is underway that bridges the past and present.

Constructed in 1924, Wilson High was designed by notable architects who helped create several iconic Southern California buildings, including the Shrine Auditorium and the Griffith Observatory. Wilson's majestic arches, clay roof tiles and ornate columns are characteristic of the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture popular in California at the time.

Four of Wilson's original buildings are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Resources, according to a districtwide study that evaluated school facilities for their historic importance. The 2015 report provided preservation recommendations for Wilson and 30 other Long Beach Unified School District campuses with historically significant construction.

Today, construction crews are modernizing the school’s most distinctive original structure — the two-story administration and classroom building — while providing much-needed care to its historic features.

The light poles that flank the building entrance were sanded to their original marble, and new electrical wiring restored their power.

The building's concrete steps were reconstructed, and the tiles that mark time capsules for Wilson seniors graduating from 1933 through the late 1970s were straightened and reset.

Wilson's seat wall, a longtime favorite for Bruins gathering between classes, was raised by 2 feet to better match its original height and decorated with moulding that echoes the building's trim. A forthcoming accessible sloped walkway will be fenced with concrete instead of standard metal handrails to preserve the aesthetics of the building’s exterior.

Inside the building, original light fixtures were carefully removed, cleaned and reinstalled once new ceilings were in place. Several windows have been enlarged and framed by a specialist in wood finishes.

New paint, flooring, lighting and projectors were added to classrooms on the building’s north and east side. Construction workers installed the ceilings in some classrooms at an angle to accommodate air conditioning units without compromising the building's exterior views.

Similar care went into Wilson's auditorium restoration. The fully modernized building, completed in 2018, retained many of its original features while complying with modern accessibility and safety standards.

Wilson’s infrastructure and accessibility improvements began in 2014, and a new synthetic track and all-weather turf field were installed in 2018. The gym’s original wood bleachers were replaced in March.

Upgrades to the administration building will be completed in June, and the renovated kitchen and dining area will be ready in August. All other Wilson buildings will receive new air conditioning, flooring, lighting and paint by next summer.

The school's powerhouse swim and water polo teams will compete in a new aquatics center starting in 2023. The center will feature an outdoor pool, bleachers for approximately 500 spectators, stadium lights, an inclusive locker room, concession stand, and team rooms, among other upgrades. Wilson's renovated natatorium and gym will also open in 2023.

Wilson’s revitalization, made possible by the district's Measure E bond program, is budgeted at $92 million.